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AI in education: Empowering learners to use AI responsibly


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Mar 22, 2024
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Students vs. school web filters 3 reasons they bypass the filter

Listen to an audio version of this post:

How do you empower your learners with the knowledge and skills they need to use AI responsibly while ensuring safety? Lindy Hockenbary is a Hāpara Champion Trainer and K-12 instructional technology consultant who leads training and professional development. Recently she’s been helping educators figure out how to unpack AI. According to Lindy, AI is a technology that is “affecting everything in society more than any technology we have ever experienced.” So what does this mean for AI in education and student safety?

In this webinar, Lindy shares:

  • How to prepare learners for a world where AI is everywhere
  • Strategies to promote digital citizenship and an ethical understanding of AI’s impact

Check out the full webinar on demand.

The current state of AI in education

What are some words to describe it?​

Lindy asks the webinar participants for one word to describe their feelings about AI or the current state of AI in education. Participants shared words such as: scary, fast, useful, Wild West, potential, fascinating, daunting, overwhelming, confusion, fear and concern.

There is a lot of debate happening around AI, and the participants’ words reflect the polarizing feelings about AI in education. Lindy adds that there is a glimmer of hope and that AI can positively transform how we teach and learn.

She also affirms that there is a spectrum to how we feel about AI. Why is that? Technology is improving at an extremely rapid pace. Lindy says that we have gone from linear improvement in technology over the past several decades to increasing at an exponential pace.

Example: AI developments during the space of 30 days​

In just the month of March 2024, there were both minor and major developments in AI:

AI literacy falls on schools

What is AI literacy?​

AI literacy will soon become a requirement in schools. Digital Promise defines AI literacy as “the knowledge and skills that enable humans to critically understand, use, and evaluate AI systems and tools to safely and ethically participate in an increasingly digital world.”

Lindy said that we can debate whether AI literacy should or should not be taught in schools, but the reality is that it will fall on schools no matter where you are in the world. AI literacy is an arm of digital citizenship, so you need to make sure that AI literacy is embedded into what you’re already doing to teach AI.

AI content detectors​

Lindy explains that AI content detectors do not work and they are going to become less and less reliable. AI content detectors are algorithms that try to identify whether or not content is generated by AI. For example, a teacher might use one to figure out if AI wrote a learner’s complete essay. AI content detectors are unreliable, and it’s important that educators don’t lean on them as a band-aid because AI technology continues to improve so rapidly. Instead, instructional practices need to change.

Lindy says, “This is a technology that is not going to allow formal education to stay relevant if we don’t adjust and change pedagogical practices.”

How to collaborate with AI in the classroom

Learners need to be able to interact with AI if you’re going to teach AI literacy. Part of that is getting AI tools into the hands of learners safely and figuring out ways to collaborate with AI.

For example, we’ve all already been using predictive AI. Think about spell check, fraud alerts or email filtering, for example. But now we are faced with generative AI, which creates new things. AI will end up helping us with just about everything we do as humans. As educators, we need to help learners collaborate with AI as a critical skill and teach them the how and the why.

For instance, they need to understand during a task when AI can help them. Should AI complete the task? Or are there specific steps where AI can help instead? We have to teach that because it won’t come naturally to learners. The “how” is about the tool you choose. Learners need to understand whether or not the tool is safe and whether it supports data privacy.

Introduction to Hāpara Workspace​

Hāpara Workspace is a digital learning platform that brings together all the content for a lesson, unit, project or course. It makes it easy to differentiate instruction for groups, personalize learning and support student voice and choice. It also helps you easily and safely share AI tools with learners.

Lindy provides an example Workspace called “Classic Literary Characters in Modern Times”: bit.ly/4cK4ioK. This simple, introductory Workspace includes learning outcomes, learning resources and learning tasks. In this Workspace, learners explore the concept of timeless literature by placing classic literary characters in modern-day scenarios.

In the second column of the Workspace there are learning resources. There are different options for learners to collaborate with AI. In the first example, learners will use a tool called SchoolAI where Lindy created a “Space” for their activity. This AI tool helps learners create their narrative by starting with the prompt and continuing to ask guiding questions based on a learner’s responses and prior knowledge. Educators can also create a “Space” based on grade level, so the AI will talk to the learner at their reading level.

Why is an AI tool like this helpful? A tool like this can be a support as learners are completing their activity. It gives each learner personalized guidance along the way when you can’t sit one-on-one with every learner.

In the third Hāpara Workspace, Lindy added a Google Doc where learners can write their story and reflect on how they collaborated with AI. When you add a Google Doc into Workspace, each learner will automatically get their own copy.

Through this Workspace example, you can see how easy it is to provide students with an organized path to learning, whether you want them to interact with AI or other types of tools and multimedia. You’re able to identify with steps when learners should use a resource or begin an activity. Plus, you can ensure safety and focus on the learning outcome because you add the exact content and links you want learners to visit.

Introduction to Hāpara Highlights​

Hāpara Highlights is a student browsing visibility tool for educators. This Chrome browser monitoring tool shows you what learners are viewing on their screens so you can help them stay safe and focused.

One of the ways you can support learners as responsible digital citizens is by guiding their browsing online. By setting up a “Focus session,” you can add links to websites, pages or tools that you want learners to use. You can set up these guided browsing sessions for a specific amount of time and even schedule them in advance. So if you’d like learners to collaborate with a safe AI for twenty minutes, you can create a session that will focus learners on that link.

Another feature in Highlights is “Share links.” This feature allows you to share links, such as links to AI tools, that will open up onto learners’ devices. Learners will be able to use these links when they want, in addition to other tabs they already have open.

Groups in Workspace and Highlights​

In both Workspace and Highlights, educators can quickly set up groups and differentiate instruction. In Workspace, you can add groups and instantly share specific objectives, resources, collaborative Docs or rubrics with group members. In Highlights, you can create guided browsing sessions for groups or individual learners or share links with either.

Key takeaways

  • Schools need to teach AI literacy.
  • Educators need to adjust instruction and change pedagogical practices in order to stay relevant with evolving technology.
  • Educators can help learners collaborate with AI as a critical skill and teach them the how and the why.
  • Hāpara makes it easy to safely get AI into the hands of learners and teach AI literacy.

Learn what to focus on when building a culture of digital citizenship, including conversation starters for learners and educators!

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